Counsellors, Coaches, Psychologists or Psychiatrists: Who Should You See for Your Mental Health?

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I’m often asked who the right professional is for a particular mental health need. “Should I see a Clinical Psychologist, a Counsellor or a Coach?”

The mental health profession is indeed hard to navigate. There are Psychologists and Psychiatrists. Then, there are Coaches, Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Mental Health Workers, Mental Health Nurses, etc.

Of course, there are professionals with a “Dr” in front of their name and most without. Some professionals call themselves a “Consultant”, “Senior”, “Principal”, and every other title under the sun.

Even among Psychologists, some call themselves “Clinical Psychologists”, “Educational Psychologists”, “Health Psychologists”, etc.

With so many options, it’s not surprising that a lot of people give up on their search for the right psychological support.

The field of mental health professionals is very confusing. That’s why I always reply to all clients’ requests myself. There’s only so much you can expect in this minefield, even from the most experienced administrative and secretarial staff.

When I respond to an enquiry, I explain the available options, how they differ, and who might be the best professional for your needs. The choice is always yours.

Clinical Psychologists, for example, are experts in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders using evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and others. They typically work with individuals who have severe or complex mental health needs.

Counsellors, on the other hand, typically work with individuals who are experiencing emotional difficulties or seeking support with life transitions. They may use talk therapy and other techniques to help individuals manage stress, improve communication, and cope with challenging situations.

Coaches differ from Psychologists and Counsellors, as they generally focus on personal development and goal-setting rather than mental health disorders. Coaches work with individuals who want to improve specific areas of their life, such as careers, relationships, or finances.

It’s important to note that mental health professionals’ qualifications and training requirements can vary widely. For example, while Psychologists and Psychiatrists typically have advanced degrees and extensive training, Counsellors and Coaches may have different certifications or qualifications.

Ultimately, the right mental health professional for you will depend on your unique needs and preferences. When seeking support, it’s essential to ask questions about the professional’s qualifications, approach, and experience to ensure they are a good fit for you.

If you’re unsure where to start, speaking with your primary care physician or seeking referrals from trusted friends or family members may be helpful. Remember that seeking mental health support is essential to improve your overall well-being, and there is no shame in asking for help.

I’ve written a detailed blog on the different types of mental health professions as I couldn’t find an adequate resource elsewhere. Clients and readers who want to be informed, stay tuned.

To find out more about what a psychologist is, see this brief and informative clip created by the British Psychological Society.